PROBLEM OF IDENTITY IN NO TELEPHONE TO HEAVEN

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In in Michelle Cliff’s No Telephone to Heaven , the main character, Clare Savage, is conflicted over her mixed racial and class backgrounds, which mirror the history of Jamaica, her country of birth. Clare’s mother’s family are landowners, wealthy people, but they are not white. There are many different “races” on the island, resulting from different mixtures of Spanish, British, African, and Indian blood, and there is little race prejudice, but great class prejudice and a great gap between the rich and the poor. Her father is lighter than her mother, and in the United States, where they immigrate when Clare is fourteen, he can pass for white. Clare’s father is a spendthrift and leaves Jamaica because of gambling debts. In the United States, they are part of the lower classes, not the upper classes. Clare’s mother, overcome by the race prejudice she experiences, returns to Jamaica with Clare’s younger sister, thinking that Clare can also pass for white and therefore will...

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